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Seminars in Arthritis and Rheumatism

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Arthritis is a leading cause of chronic pain and functional limitations. Exercise is beneficial for improving strength and function and decreasing pain. We evaluated the effect of a motivational interviewing-based lifestyle physical activity intervention on self-reported physical function in adults with knee osteoarthritis (KOA) or rheumatoid arthritis (RA).


Participants were randomized to intervention or control. Control participants received a brief physician recommendation to increase physical activity to meet national guidelines. Intervention participants received the same brief baseline physician recommendation in addition to motivational interviewing sessions at baseline, 3, 6, and 12 months. These sessions focused on facilitating individualized lifestyle physical activity goal setting. The primary outcome was change in self-reported physical function. Secondary outcomes were self-reported pain and accelerometer-measured physical activity. Self-reported KOA outcomes were evaluated by the Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Osteoarthritis Index (WOMAC) for KOA (WOMAC scores range from 0 to 68 for function and 0 to 20 for pain) and the Health Assessment Questionnaire (HAQ) for RA. Outcomes were measured at baseline, 3, 6, 12, and 24 months. Multiple regression accounting for repeated measures was used to evaluate the overall intervention effect on outcomes controlling for baseline values.


Participants included 155 adults with KOA (76 intervention and 79 control) and 185 adults with RA (93 intervention and 92 control). Among KOA participants, WOMAC physical function improvement was greater in the intervention group compared to the control group [difference = 2.21 (95% CI: 0.01, 4.41)]. WOMAC pain improvement was greater in the intervention group compared to the control group [difference = 0.70 (95% CI: −0.004, 1.41)]. There were no significant changes in physical activity. Among RA participants, no significant intervention effects were found.


Participants with KOA receiving the lifestyle intervention experienced modest improvement in self-reported function and a trend toward improved pain compared to controls. There was no intervention effect for RA participants. Further refinement of this intervention is needed for more robust improvement in function, pain, and physical activity.


Accepted version. Seminars in Arthritis and Rheumatism, Vol. 47, No. 8 (April 2018) : 732-740. DOI. © 2018 Elsevier. Used with permission.

Daniel Pinto was affiliated with Northwestern University at the time of publication.

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